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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dollar-Wise Dinners

Amy Hannold, 247Moms Frugal Living Editor

In one of my recent articles for Thrifty Thursday, I mentioned the importance of having some “Friday Falldown” meals, ready in your pantry.  I’ve had some requests to give some examples of those – and to share a few of my favorites.

The premise behind “Friday Falldown” meals is having appetizing meals, which are easy to prepare, ready for those nights when cooking is last on your “want-to-do” list.   Best success is found with comfort foods – these sound good when you’re tired.  Create a few and be ready to resist the urge to order take-out.

So, here go the ideas:

Freezer Finger Food Meals – Beyond Pizza:
Frozen chicken, fish, potatoes, and appetizer-type foods – or you could pair the meats with baked potatoes, and all of the fixin’s.  Commercially-made frozen entrees, or TV-Style dinners you’ve made for yourself from leftovers.  Our favorite is to splurge, nutritionally speaking, and enjoy some frozen pot pies – with salad, of course!  Buy these with coupons and stash ‘em away out of sight – until just the night you need them.

Eggs and Bacon – It’s Not Just For Breakfast:
A “backwards” meal, as my kids call it, is enjoying breakfast for dinner.  Already prepared pancakes or waffles (made on the weekends and frozen for quick meals) along with some “special treat” sausage, bacon or corned beef hash – voila – dinner is ready.  While I’m at it, I’ll share with you another comfort food breakfast.  It’s a German-side of the family delight called “Cornbread and Cocoa”.   Bake cornbread (or removed pre-make cornbread from the freezer).  Heat and enjoy slightly crumbled up in a bowl under a generous pouring of cocoa.  Yum!  My point is, whatever makes your family breakfasts special, enjoy them during the week, or on a Friday and all will be pleased.

Chicken or Beef, Freezer Marinated:
When I buy large quantities of chicken, pork, or beef steaks, I like to separate them in zippered freezer bags.  To the bag, I pour in some Italian salad dressing or cream of mushroom soup.  For four servings:  mix one can of cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken), one cup of water, ¾ cup of rice and some spices.  Toss with chicken breasts. Place into gallon-size freezer bag.  To enjoy, thaw the bag in your refrigerator, bake in a 9 X 13 pan at 375 for 45 minutes.   

Simmered Specialties:
Treat yourself to dinner ready when you arrive home – wouldn’t that smell great as you walked in from a busy day?  The same ingredients listed above with the freezer meals could be used in the crock-pot.  Italian dressing, mixed with onions and chicken into the crock-pot in the morning.  During the last hour of cooking, you can add other chopped vegetables such as mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, etc.  Utilize your rice cooker at this same time, or cook pasta and a meal is ready!  The internet has many crock-pot, freezer and “once a month cooking” recipes – all you have to do is experiment and you’ll discover some new family favorite, easily prepared meals.

Share some of your “Friday Falldown” Meals:

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